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Self Stories

All varieties of thought or mental activity–are accomplished in the brain by parallel, multitrack processes of interpretation and elaboration of sensory inputs. Information entering the system is under continuous ‘editorial revision’...These yield, over the course of time, something rather like a narrative stream or sequence, which can be thought of as subject to continual editing by many processes distributed around the brain.

Daniel Dennett (1991)

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Look inside the brain...and...there is no theatre and there is no 'I' in there. There are just multiple drafts of stories about ourselves and the world.

Susan Blackmore (1996)

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Pictures of people set-off the telling of stories Path between trees. On the way that stories articulate the parts of our lives. - don’t you want to for the picture above? Our social lives rest on being able to accurately guess what is going on between, and with, those around us. Assessing the facial expressions, we add in the bodily deportment, then the cultural artefacts such as clothes and hair styles, icing the whole with contextual evidence. And so we have a tableaux extracted from the life of the person which runs through time and becomes a story. Dennett has a similar account, but he is working from the other end - from inside outwards. As writers the elements we use may be more, or less, veridical. And like any story it is drafted and redrafted as we gain access to further information or review that which we already have. This ‘drafting of stories’ is just what consciousness is - the ‘comparator’ Model of south Iceland glacier wiwth inset of real thing. Introducing the Comparator Model of consciousness. at work: forming perceptions from the sensations, organising them into that unified whole The photographer taking a photograph into a mirror. More on this elusive self. which we experience as our lived-in world; a story of the self. Grave yard with rows of tombstones. The un-told story of our own lives.

The Dennett quotes are from pages 111 and 135 of Consciousness Explained published by Little, Brown and Co. Susan Blackmore’s article The Evolution of Consciousness appeared on page 28 of Resurgence 177, July/August 1996.


The photograph was taken on the streets of Hà Nội in (a cold) early January 2011.


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Saturday 12th November 2022

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